Don’t let morning sickness dampen the excitement of your pregnancy

It’s common for pregnant women to feel nauseous during early pregnancy – it’s called ‘Morning Sickness’ and affects 3 out of 4 pregnant women! This feeling can happen at any time of the day, and not just in the morning.

In most cases, the morning sickness is mild and does not need any treatment. However, some pregnant women may experience severe nausea and vomiting, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, which may require medical attention.

That ‘yucky’ feeling

A woman might feel sick or nauseated momentarily and unexpectedly, but morning sickness symptoms are generally mild and don’t last long.

However, you might have heard of some women with severe morning sickness – with frequent and longer bouts of vomiting. These women are unable to retain any food and risk becoming dehydrated. As a result, they may have very little urine, or the urine may be concentrated. They may also feel lethargic. In most cases, these symptoms go away by the 12th week of pregnancy. A few women, however, have some symptoms throughout their pregnancy.

What causes morning sickness?

No one really knows what causes morning sickness, but it may be due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy.

Will it harm the baby?

If your morning sickness is mild, you’ll be relieved to know your growing baby will usually not be affected. This is because your baby gets nourishment from your body’s reserves, even though you may not eat well or retain any food due to vomiting. The effort of retching and vomiting does not harm the baby.

Your baby is only at risk if you are very ill with dehydration that is not treated, and consequently develop other complications.

When you should seek treatment for morning sickness

You do not need any medical treatment if your symptoms are mild. Just remember to rehydrate after a bout of vomiting.

If, however, you have severe vomiting without being able to retain any food, and lose more than 10% of your pre-pregnancy weight, see your doctor immediately. There are effective anti-vomiting medications that are safe for your baby, thus do seek medical help early if you are unwell.

Sometimes, you may be admitted to hospital, for your dehydration to be treated with intravenous fluids, and your vomiting with medication.

This is to prevent complications such as low potassium in the blood (hypokalemia) and kidney failure. It is also important to exclude other causes of vomiting such as urinary tract infections and receive appropriate treatment.

Tips to cope with morning sickness

  • Eat small but frequent meals. Choose foods high in carbohydrate, such as bread and crackers. Eating small amounts at regular intervals may also help ease symptoms.

  • Get help and support from your partner, friends and family.

  • Get enough rest as tiredness may make morning sickness worse.

  • Avoid triggers such as certain smells or an emotional stress that can set off the nausea and vomiting.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. It helps to sip a small amount regularly, rather than a large amount at one time.

  • Take an anti-sickness medicine if you are unwell. However, always consult your doctor before taking any medicine.

Video: Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is part and parcel of the pregnancy journey. Find out about morning sickness, what you should take note of, and how you can combat it.